Wine Guy: Move over, Pumpkin spice latte: Pumpkin ale is here

The pumpkin spice phenomenon is wide-reaching

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Pumpkin spice latte devotees will immediately nod in approval. While fancy coffee drinks will not be this week’s focus, it’s certainly PSL season, and the pumpkin spice phenomenon is real and wide-reaching. Which means it’s also time for pumpkin ales. Admittedly, it’s been a couple years since going down the gourd beer path, so I figured it was time to check in with a few seasonal releases.

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Wine Guy

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Fernie Brewing Co. Ghostrider Pumpkin Brown Ale, Fernie

($3.69 for 473mL can, #451821)

In terms of dollar volume sales PSB — or pumpkin spice beer — peaked as a specialty category a few years back. That said, it still represents a significant seasonal, with many breweries continuing to create limited-release pumpkin ales. In Fernie Brewing Co.’s case, they use their First Tax Brown Ale as a base and add pumpkin and accompanying spice to create Ghostrider Pumpkin Brown Ale. Pouring a deep, dark brown ale it features ample malt, nuttiness, pumpkin, and spice — with an almost chewy, weighty mid-palate giving way to a bright, fresh finish.

Bottom line: B, Pair with fondue.

Wine Guy

Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. Crooked Tooth Nitro Pumpkin Ale, Victoria

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($3.59 for 473mL, #332828)

Why chew your pumpkin pie when you can drink it? Phillips’ Crooked Tooth Nitro Pumpkin Ale gives off serious pumpkin pie vibes, which is completely intentional considering the addition of nitrogen gas used to smooth things out. No joke, this beer includes pouring instructions to fully appreciate the nitro stance — or “pour it hard” to use the specific parlance on the side of the can. The result is a chestnut-brown ale with ample creamy beige head that comes across malty, full-on pumpkin pie rich and creamy, with complementary chocolate and a subtle spice underlay. Bring on the stew or chilli.

Bottom line: B+, Suave pumpkin ale

Wine Guy

Longwood Brewery Full Patch Pumpkin Ale, Nanaimo

($4.69 for 473 mL, #134885)

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Then there’s the full pumpkin option. Or at least Longwood’s Full Patch Pumpkin Ale, that along the way from the pumpkin patch to the brewery and into the can manages to clock in at a robust 9 per cent alcohol volume. This is a fulsome Belgian-style saison redolent with candied fruit and spice. Quite rich overall, there’s a bitterness and spiciness that builds through the mid-palate, leading to a lingering finish featuring ginger, clove, and dried fruit. This strong pumpkin ale certainly slides into the sip-slowly category, ideally alongside a cozy fire and a good book.

Bottom line: B, Monster pumpkin ale


The Swirl: Township 7 Grape Stomp

To fully appreciate wine it’s necessary to get your feet dirty, or at least stained. The perfect opportunity presents itself again with Township 7’s annual Grape Stomp. Taking place Sunday, Oct. 15 from noon to 5 p.m. at the winery’s South Langley location, the Grape Stomp sees teams of six to eight people competing to stomp the maximum amount of grape juice (costumes encouraged). Team entry for this fundraising event is $350 and includes a bottle of wine per team, live music, and the chance to wine multiple prizes. Four competition heats are available starting at noon, and at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Details at township7.com/collection/langley-events/. 

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